Australians urged to be on the lookout during Turtle Month

Murray River turtle 

Australians are being urged to be on the lookout for turtles during November to help researchers better understand how to best protect these native creatures as they leave the safety of the water to lay their eggs on dry land.

The University of Western Sydney is launching Turtle Month in November to raise awareness about the incredible danger facing female turtles as they make the transformation from graceful aquatic survivors to slow and defenceless landlubbers.

As part of Turtle Month, the University is calling on people to download the TurtleSAT app, which gives users the chance to log turtle sightings to help researchers develop new protection strategies.

The TurtleSAT app is a simple tool with a big impact. By recording the location and species of turtles spotted in the wild, users are giving Australian scientists the edge in tracking where turtles make their nests.

"Female turtles are up against it when they leave the safety of the water to lay their eggs," says Dr Ricky Spencer, from the UWS School of Science and Health.

"Drought and urban development may have taken away all the old nesting spots, roads and cars are often in their way, and once the eggs are finally laid, foxes and other predators can sniff them out and eat them before they've had a chance to hatch."

"The good news is everyone can help. By downloading the TurtleSAT app and keeping your eyes open during Turtle Month, people can help us learn more about these mysterious creatures, and how to protect them and their eggs as they crawl into the wider world."

For those without a smart phone there is an easy to use TurtleSAT website to record sightings once you get home or arrive at work.

TurtleSAT is a collaboration of the University of Western Sydney, The University of Sydney, NSW Department of Primary Industries, Invasive Animals CRC, The Field Naturalist Society of South Australia and the Barbara Hardy Institute at the University of South Australia.


7 November 2014

Mark Smith, Senior Media Officer

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